Kent Gill

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KentGill.jpgKent and Lois Gill in their Camp Sherman, OR, home in 2008 Kent Gill served on the City Council from 4/20/1964 to 4/20/1968. Served as Mayor from 1966 to 1967.

Kent was also a popular English teacher at the old Emerson Junior High School (now the school district offices at Russell & B street) during the early 1970s. He was also the President of the local chapter of the Sierra Club and organized summer backpacking trips for Emerson's 9th graders to Yosemite and other wilderness areas. Great guy!

Kent is currently living near Bend, OR. He is still active in the "Deschutes River Land Trust" and other environmental groups.

He send the following letter in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Davis's Bike Lanes on Sept 7, 2007.

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Statement for Bike Lane Commemorative Event

When we came to Davis in 1958, the bicycle had long been a significant mode of transportation. Kids learned early how to ride their bikes, the elementary schools and junior high had large bike parking areas, professors rode to and from the University. Only the high schoolers thought bikes were uncool. But there was little special consideration given to bikers. Davis still reflected the national and especially Californian love affair with the auto.

Then in the mid-60's the Lotts (Donna and Dale) brought the idea of marking special lanes for bicycles on major streets to the city council. The idea was not immediately embraced by the council. All sorts of arguments against the idea were proposed: a deleterious effect on business (we never were able to figure that one out); increased conflict between cars and bikes (we thought the opposite would be the effect); designating special lanes for bikes conflicted with state laws about the use of public streets. There seemed to be two of us on the city council in favor and three reluctant to proceed.

In the 1966 election bike lanes were at issue and the results seated two proponents for bike lanes to join me. So we had the votes. When the legal issue was resolved, a city ordinance established a system of bikeways on the public streets, the forerunner of the extensive system of bike lanes and bike routes through parks and to schools, the system that is accepted and enjoyed by Davis bikers young and old today.

If I were nominating the "heroes" of this drama in Davis politics, I would suggest the following:

The Lotts. They came to the council with a well-thought-out, detailed proposal for a network of bike lanes and they were persistent and indefatigable in their promotion of the idea. They phoned us council members, they appeared at council meetings, they organized local support, and they never gave up.

Councilman Norm Woodbury. Norm was a professional legislative advocate in Sacramento, and he shepherded a revised interpretation of local authority re the use of a city's streets through the byzantine halls of state government, giving us clear authority to mark off bike lanes.

The city staff including Howard Reese, city manager, and Fred Kendall, public works director, for taking an unusual and not entirely popular idea and turning it into the reality of designated streets, painted lanes, and bikeway signs.

When my daughter Kathy and her family returned to Davis in 2002, she found that the Davis bike lane system gave her school-aged sons a mobility with safety that had not been at all available to them in Puyallup, Washington. So bikeways became for them an important
element of "Life in Davis."

Sincerely,
Kent Gill
Mayor of Davis, 1966 - 1968

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